© 2024 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

The Source: Cracking Down On Science Fraud

Flickr user NIAID


The foundation of science is tested, repeatable experiments with good data.

When people lie in science, fabricate data, the peer-review process is supposed to keep fraudsters from publishing. But as science expands it becomes more complex and the number of journals flourishes.

As a result of being treated as a business, a number of high-profile frauds are occurring, and sometimes the journals themselves are complicit.

The well-regarded journal Science ran a sting operation sending out fake data on a cancer wonder drug to 304 open-access journals, of which more than half published. John Bohannon, who ran the sting, wrote of the drug.

"In fact, it should have been promptly rejected. Any reviewer with more than a high school knowledge of chemistry and the ability to understand a basic data plot should have spotted the paper's short-comings immediately."

From the HIV vaccine that wasn't, to the massive "ring" of faux-studies that led to the unprecedented retraction of 60 journal articles, the millions of dollars spent on these studies are rarely recouped and some are calling for more sanctions to be imposed, including increased criminal penalties. 

More than the money though, many are highlighting the impact these bad actors have on real science and the legitimacy of complex research. 

The authors of RetractionWatch.com follow the issue closely and recently called for more to be done to prevent science fraud noting that studiesshowed that most scientists who engaged in ethical shenanigans, were still conducting research at their institutions.


  • Dr. Ivan Oransky, co-founder of RetractionWatch.com, vice-president of the Association for Health Care Journalists and global editorial director for MedPage Today (@ivanoransky)
  • Adam Marcus, co-founder of RetractionWatch.com and managing editor of Anesthesiology News (@armarcus)

*This is the second segment in the July 16 edition of The Source, which airs at 3 p.m. on KSTX 89.1 FM. Audio from this show will be posted by 5:30 p.m.

Stay Connected
Paul Flahive can be reached at Paul@tpr.org